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Mike Francis – (The Oregonian) – November 4 , 2012 – I reached out to most of the jurors who awarded damages Friday to the Oregon National Guard soldiers and, so far, one has agreed to discuss the jury’s deliberations, on the condition that he/she not be identified. Here are a few bullet points from our conversation.
1. A consensus emerged fairly quickly that KBR was negligent in the way it operated at Qarmat Aliin 2003. KBR “displayed a level of incompetence you wouldn’t expect from a professional organization being paid well” to do its job, the juror said.
The jury was influenced by the fact that KBR eventually did shut down operations at the water treatment plant out of concerns over contamination by sodium dichromate, which contains the carcinogen hexavalent chromium. Yet KBR was present at the site beginning in March and operated there daily through the spring and summer. To think something changed that much at the site between March and August “defies logic,” the juror said. “There should have been enough red flags. They screwed up in not identifying it early.” (Click HERE for article)
KBR trial: Some morning-after observations
Mike Francis – (The Oregonian) – November 3, 2012 – While the trial felt like a marathon that ended in a Friday-afternoon frenzy, the KBR case is far from over. Or, as one of the soldiers’ lawyers told his clients in the moments after the verdict was read, “Don’t start writing checks yet.”KBR’s lawyers will ask Judge Papak to throw out the verdict for multiple technical reasons, including what’s known as “the political question.” Failing that, they will appeal.
For KBR not to have informed him and his men directly of the hazards at Qarmat Ali, he said, made him “very disappointed.”
“Why?” asked his questioner.
“I’m dying now because of it,” he replied.~ Testimony of LTC James Gentry – Indiana National Guard Commander
Two Oregon soldiers take the stand for the first time in KBR case
Mike Francis – (The Oregonian) – October 15, 2012 – After more than two years of legal motions, objections, depositions and pretrial hearings, Oregon National Guard soldiers suing defense contractor KBR Inc. got their day in court Monday.
Guard veterans Jason Arnold of Redmond and Rocky Bixby of Portland took the stand for the first time to describe their experiences at the Qarmat Ali water treatment plant in southern Iraq in the spring of 2003. The two are among 12 Oregon Guard soldiers or veterans who accuse the contractor of negligence and fraud in exposing them to a carcinogen chemical compound when they provided security at the plant. Others are expected to testify in the coming days as the trial enters its second week.
Arnold said he entered a damaged building at the water plant to check for security threats and saw damaged equipment and paper strewn about the floor. He said he picked up some papers and kicked up some dust as he did so. (Click HERE for article)
Mike Francis – (The Oregonian) – April 10, 2012 – The suit brought by several dozen Oregon National Guard soldiers against military contractor KBR Inc. has been downsized by the federal judge hearing the case.
In an effort to reduce the number of plaintiffs to a manageable number, U.S. Magistrate Judge Paul Papak has ordered trial to proceed in October with 12 plaintiffs — four chosen by lawyers for each side, and four selected by the court.
Separately, one plaintiff, Michael O’Rielly, has withdrawn from the case at his own request.
That leaves 21 soldiers whose case against KBR will be set aside while the trial of the first dozen proceeds in Portland this fall.